Dirty Grandpa, film review: Robert De Niro's career takes a nosedive

(15)​ Dan Mazer, 102 mins. Starring: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza

Zac Efron and Robert de Niro in 'Dirty Grandpa'
Zac Efron and Robert de Niro in 'Dirty Grandpa'

Toward the end of Dirty Grandpa, we see a photo featuring a youthful Robert De Niro. This only serves to remind us what a mighty falling-off there has been in De Niro's career. One of the greatest screen actors of recent times has been reduced in his dotage to appearing opposite Zac Efron in woefully crude comedies such as this.

De Niro plays Dick Kelly, a grandfather whose wife has just died. The randy old goat is desperate to have sex and so tricks his uptight, soon-to-be-married grandson (Efron) into driving him to Florida so they can join in the spring break festivities at Daytona Beach. We get to see De Niro masturbating (doing a "number three", as he calls it), dancing, rapping, beating up gangsta-types he meets in a nightclub and pretending he's a college professor so he can seduce Lenore (the ever-charming Aubrey Plaza), who has a fetish for old men anyway.

Efron, meanwhile, is fed drugs and ends up naked on a beach with a phallic swastika daubed on his face, while his fiancée despairs about whether he will make it back in time for the wedding.

The gags get dirtier. There are a few moments of hilarity, but most of the film seems merely grotesque. It's baffling as to what draws De Niro to such material when he should be playing Willy Loman or King Lear.

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